LAB:Antibiotics the dish around the mould tremendously lacked

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Last updated: April 18, 2019

LAB:Antibiotics are, simply, the microorganisms or the microbial products that acts against or kills another infectious microorganism. On that particular day, Fleming on examining the petri dishes having staphylococci culture found that a part of the dish was contaminated with mould. On careful observation under the microscope, the part of the dish around the mould tremendously lacked the growth of the staphylococci bacteria. This led to a conclusion that there is some useful factor in the fungi, Penicillium notatum, which inhibited the growth of bacteria and also could in turn be prolific in healing infectious diseases.     Lack of adequate knowledge on chemistry and insufficient technology to handle the further experiment coerced Fleming to abandon his further research on effective use and quantitative production of penicillin.

Fleming’s paper released on this finding greatly spurred Dr. Howard W. Florey and his fellow assistant Dr. Ernst B. Chain at Oxford University to continue this noble journey towards the today’s advancement in antibiotics.

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  In 1938, Flory, Chain, Norman G. Heatley, and twenty other scientists ventured their work to unravel the knots surrounded amidst the quantitative production, purification and therapeutic usages of the mould. Initially, this team used small containers and jars to produce the mould for clinical trials on animals.

Norman Heatley extracted the penicillin using the counter-current system of amyl actetate and water. Another fellow researcher, Edward Abrabhm used alumina column chromatography to purify the penicillin before using it for the clinical trials.Flory and Chain administrated the purified penicillin on mice infected with noxious streptococcus bacteria.  The mice injected with the antibiotic survived while other succumbed to death due to the deadly infection of bacteria. The first clinical trial on human was done on a police constable, Albert Alexander, who had pricked his face which resulted horrible swelling on his face due to the bacterial infection. The person was injected with this anti-bacterial drug under the inspection of Flory and Chain. Even though, the person initially began to recover, the supply of penicillin was inadequate for his complete recovery and he died. This incident was popularly disparaged as “the treatment was success but the patient died”.

But this paltry of slandering was trivial for the scientists who constantly worked to lead this project to success.  During the climax days of World War II, Flory and Chain flew to America to continue their research on penicillin as a ‘war project’. The project was given high priority owing to its capacity to heal the infections acquired by the Solders in the war.

 Due to the inadequate production of penicillin from the P. notatum species, scientist started their search for other species of penicillin that could produce profuse amount of drug. Eventually, a mould obtained from a market at Illinois, identified as Penicllium Chrysogen produced higher amount of drug.

Scientist further increased its production by mutating the species with X-rays and UV radiation. This mutant species in turn produced 1000 times more penicillin than the Fleming’s original culture. Unlike the method used by Oxford Scientists by growing the culture on the surface of nutrient medium, latter methods produced the mould in industrial quantity by submerging the culture inside the nutrient medium kept inside the constantly stirred tanks. The substitution of lactose for the sucrose as the medium of culture as used by Florey and his colleagues, and addition of corn-steep liquor in the medium increased the production by as many as ten folds. Andrew Moyer, an American scientist made this important discovery.

 This frequent and continual development drastically reduced the price of penicillin making the ‘purified’ penicillin easily available to general public in adequate amount. Life: In the initial days of its discovery, Penicillin was more specifically used for military purposes to cure the solders during the World War II. The broad spectrum of penicillin to act against number of bacteria such as streptococcus, meningococcus and Diphtheria bacillus, successfully treated pneumonia and blood poisoning, the major causes of death, in hospitals, during the war, strep throat, scarlet fever, diphtheria, syphilis, gonorrhoea, meningitis, tonsillitis, rheumatic fever, and many other diseases.

This ground breaking discovery tremendously decreased the death of patients due to infectious diseases. The given bar-graph which depicts the causes of death in early 20th century and in the early 21st century, explicitly illustrates this drastic decrease facilitated by Penicillin.    In this way, through the incessant and painstaking effort of scientific community, once tagged as “wonder drug”, penicillin, came into existence. Keeping in mind the tremendous ability of penicillin to cure infectious diseases, the side effects, bacterial resistance induced due to reckless administration of antibiotic also cannot be ignored. In 1945, during the Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Fleming warned about excess use of antibiotics which could lead to bacterial resistance. Unfortunately this herald seems to be ignored by general public and currently the bacterial resistance to the drug has been new impasse in the field of the antibiotic research.

Along with Fleming, Florey and Chain were awarded with Noble Prize in Physiology or medicine for their paramount effort in the discovery and therapeutic use of penicillin. References: 1. ON THE ANTIBACTERIAL ACTION OF CULTURES OF A PENICILLIUM, WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO THEIR USE IN THE ISOLATION OF B. INFLUENZA. BY ALEXANDER FLEMING, F.R.C.

S.2. http://www.geoffsgenealogy.

htm4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.

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